The Election and the Economic Crisis

by Bob Bradley

My thinking has undergone a radical shift since the election. Prior to then I had little good to say about Barack Obama, although I readily acknowledged that he was gifted and eloquent and likeable. But I was really put off by his comments on abortion, his implicit attitudes toward same-sex marriage, and all the radical liberal baggage that he brought with him. The fact that Americans would choose a black person to be a candidate for the presidency was wonderful, but I couldn’t help thinking, “Why couldn’t it be Condy Rice, or Alan Keyes, or Colin Powell? Why does it have to be this relatively unknown liberal, with all the questionable (or maybe “shady” is a better word) people in his past? I grudgingly told the Lord, “All right, if he wins I’ll pray for him,” but my heart wasn’t in it.

Well, that’s changed. My heart is in it now. No, I have not succumbed to his charm or his self-confidence in the face of looming crisis. But I have succumbed to the Word of God. Paul says “Therefore, I exhort first of all that supplications…be…made… for kings and all who are in authority…” (I Tim. 2:1, 2). Psalm 75: 6, 7 says “For exaltation comes neither from the east nor from the west nor from the south. But God is the judge: He puts down one, and exalts another.” Daniel 2:21 says “And He changes the times and the seasons; He removes kings and raises up kings…” I am not even suggesting that Obama is a better man than McCain, but I am saying that God, for reasons not fully apparent to us, has delivered the presidency to him. We need to accept that, and following Paul’s exhortation, pray earnestly for our new president and a whole new group of leaders. We must not passively bow out and wait for Sarah Palin in 2012.

An Economic Earthquake

Although it is now widely acknowledged that we are in the worst financial crisis of the past 70 years, I do not believe our leaders have an accurate perspective on the enormity of the problem. The financial advisers whose opinion I most respect (and I recognize that they could be wrong) are saying that huge bailouts, with all the attendant risk, will substantially weaken our currency and could lead, in the worst-case scenario, to national bankruptcy. Oil prices have fallen dramatically in the last month, and the dollar has strengthened appreciably against the euro. But it can be persuasively argued that these are just temporary reactions to the worldwide credit crisis. And the almost universal euphoria over Obama’s election could momentarily impede the downward spiral. But more stimulus programs and bailouts for automakers are not going to resolve the underlying problems in our economic landscape.

Current proposals to deal with the crisis are based on the idea that we can spend our way out of the problems by printing more money. Our leaders seem to be saying, “Yes, we may have to cope with some inflation, but we’ll get by--just give us a little time.” In the meanwhile, nobody seems to acknowledge the San Andreas fault line that lies right under the middle of our economic structures and institutions. Even if our leaders were to start biting bullets, rather than creating dollars out of thin air, no amount of chewed lead is going to make that fault line go away. Fault lines are rendered safe by massive earthquakes, and I am convinced it’s going to take a major deflationary depression to make our economic real estate safe again. Inflated government dollars thrown at bankrupt institutions will only make the pain sharper and more protracted.

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So, is there any good news? You bet there is--but it’s not superficial, giddy good news. It’s the good news that God delights to make a way for His people in times of crisis. He loves to unveil His help, and He loves to show His face to His people who trust him in dark times. The Scriptures that declare God’s zealous love for His people in times of trial are too many to list in this letter, but I must mention Psalm 50:15 -- “Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.” Every promise in Scripture must be interpreted in its context, and the context of this verse is the preceding verse: “Offer to God thanksgiving, and pay your vows to the Most High.” An unspiritual, complaining, thankless, carnal believer cannot effectively claim this promise until he gets his heart right with God, that is, until he “pays his vows” (follows through on his heartfelt commitments) to the Most High.

Living Under God’s Shadow

Of course, Psalm 91 immediately comes to mind, with its condition that you “dwell in the secret place of the Most High, and abide under the shadow of the Almighty.” If you don’t have a significant devotional life, with time spent in the secret place of the Most High, you are going to have a difficult time laying hold of the promises in this wonderful Psalm. But if you do seek Him in the secret place, what incredible protection is yours! And then there is the prayer of Solomon in II Chronicles chapter 6. It is hard to match the promises in this chapter, and they are given explicitly to backsliders who are experiencing the corrective judgments of God! Be sure to read this chapter if you are not familiar with it. Even if you have seriously failed the Lord, you will find a promise of His mercy and His intention to help you in this chapter. And don’t forget Psalm 107, which is probably the most powerful statement of God’s restoring mercies in the whole Bible.

I want to exhort you to familiarize yourself with the hundreds of promises in the Word that declare the faithfulness of God to His people in times of trial. Then when trouble comes you won’t be frantically thumbing through your Bible looking for a verse to comfort you, but your mind will be set at rest the minute you begin to reflect on the verses already in your heart.

You will recall from my last letter that the greatest revival in America’s history, the layman’s prayer revival of 1857, was immediately preceded by the “panic of ‘57,” when major financial institutions failed and many thousands of businesses went bankrupt. Most of the praying men who sparked the revival were businessmen who were unemployed or whose businesses were in some degree of jeopardy. This revival within months stretched from Portland, Maine to Portland, Oregon and resulted in a million conversions.

God clearly has an agenda for the troubles He is allowing to come upon our country. He wants to strip away the materialism that has gripped the hearts of His people, disrupt our security systems, and bring us to a place of dependence on Himself alone. When He has done this preparatory work in our hearts, He will fill us with the living water of His presence, and His body will have food and drink for those who are spiritually desperate and physically destitute. I would not presume to say what shape the coming revival will take, but I am deeply convinced that house churches will play a very significant role in spreading the revival and in nourishing those who commit themselves to be disciples of Jesus.

The Key

So, where do we go from here? I am increasingly persuaded that the key to the growth of the house church movement is the emergence of mature leaders who have a Biblical vision for house churches and who can facilitate a group without directing or dominating it. But above all, such leaders must be men and women of prayer. The spiritual maturity of any group of believers is directly related to the effectiveness of the intercession of its leaders. It is made abundantly clear by Paul in Ephesians 1:15-18 and in Colossians 2:1, 2 that the intercession of leaders brings spiritual revelation, which results in purity, power, and maturity.

Fairly recently I have begun to meet with two men who have a vision for training leaders for house church ministry. One is presently the pastor of a cell church, and the other is a former pastor who is currently working as a mechanical engineer. We have just begun to talk and pray about these issues, and I expect we will receive the Lord’s guidance. I anticipate that others will join us, and that before too long we will have an informal network of experienced leaders who will be actively mentoring emerging house church facilitators.

Laying It All At His Feet

I want to close by encouraging you to lay all your security, whatever it may be, at His feet, for His purposes. Take the time to pray daily for our new president and his leadership team, and pray especially that believers in America will rise up in prayer to influence the destiny of our nation.

Facing the storm with you, and holding His hand…


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